HAS ACCOUNTABILITY BEEN DEEMED IMPOLITE?…. The name of the game is, “Talk about the oil spill disaster without implicating the Bush administration in any way, ever.” Kate Sheppard reports on some of the latest efforts to play the game effectively.
The Obama administration has faced harsh criticism for its oversight of offshore oil and gas development in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon disaster. The most absurd commentary, of course, comes from Republicans who have consistently pushed back against any attempts to regulate industry for years. The administration has been fighting back, but no one wants to actually call the problem by its name: the Bush administration.
At a House hearing Wednesday, Doug Lamborn (R-Colo.) accused Salazar of “harping on what MMS did or didn’t do in the previous administration. “Why aren’t we talking about the here and now?” asked Lamborn.
Salazar shot back about the efforts they’ve taken to reform the beleaguered agency. “Unlike the prior administration, this is not the candy store for the oil and gas kingdom that you and others were a part of,” he deadpanned.
Lamborn’s question for Salazar was almost comical. “Why aren’t we talking about the here and now?” Well, we are. And in the here and now, we’re dealing with some of the consequences of the Bush administration’s corruption, incompetence, and mismanagement. It’s not some academic or partisan exercise — the line between Bush/Cheney-era policies and today’s nightmares is straight and direct.
But apparently no one is supposed to mention this. Blaming Bush/Cheney for their own administration’s spectacular failures has been deemed … rude. Uncouth. Downright uncivilized.
At yesterday’s White House press conference, CBS News’ Chip Reid sounded downright annoyed by efforts to connect Bush-era corruption and mismanagement to the mess — not because the efforts were wrong, but because the statute of political limitations had apparently run out.
But that’s ridiculous. As we talked about yesterday, it wasn’t Obama who approved this rig. It wasn’t Obama who ignored the need for remote acoustic shutoff switches. It wasn’t Obama who corrupted the MMS. It wasn’t Obama who spent eight years downplaying the need for regulations and oversight of the oil industry.
…Republican badgering of the administration over the issue is fairly absurd. Fixing the troubled agency was one of the very first things Salazar sought to address after taking office, announcing a restructuring of MMS’s royalty-in-kind program, calling for a Justice Department investigation, and instating a new conduct code for the agency in the first days after taking office.
The Obama Department of Interior could have done more, of course, to improve the beleaguered agency. But the root of this is still the one name they won’t say: George W. Bush.
I suspect the right wants to make discussion of Bush/Cheney off limits for one inescapable reason: the truth hurts.